Tag Archives: Knights

Blood & Roses Review

blood and roses

Blood & Roses focuses on the battles of the Wars of the Roses in England, between 1455 and 1487. This was warfare in which most men were truly “of iron”, heavily and totally armored to such a point that their mobility was suspect. It was also the introduction of gunpowder – mostly field artillery – in noticeable numbers. And while many English men-at-arms were mounted, they did so almost entirely for transport. Most fighting was on foot … and it was quite vicious.

Historical Note: The game’s title refers to the heavy casualty rates and the names given to many of the fields after the battles: Bloody Meadow, Bloody Field, et al.

Blood & Roses is designed for quick learning and easy play. Game rules are short, there are no “turns” – play is Continual, with ample opportunities to steal play from your opponent – and combat resolution is a single dieroll. Playing time is about 1-2 hours, per battle.


  • 1st St. Albans (22 May 1455) marks the first major engagement in the Wars of the Roses. Richard, Duke of York and his ally, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, defeated the Lancastrians under Edmund, Duke of Somerset, who was killed during the battle. York also captured Henry VI and forced Henry to appoint him Constable of England.
  • Blore Heath (23 September, 1459) where greatly outnumbered Yorkist infantry used the longbow and a defensive position to drive off the Lancastrian Men-at-Arms.
  • 2nd St. Albans (17 February, 1461) where the Lancastrians drove the Yorkists out of the town and then destroyed Warwick’s strangely deployed army, even when sturdily defended by hedges, caltrops and spiked netting.
  • Towton (29 March, 1461) is easily biggest battle in the box and the biggest in the entire series. It uses over 200 combat units and, much like the actual battle, will probably take a long time to play. It is mostly crash and bash, with little room for maneuver, all fought in a blinding snowstorm!!
  • Barnet (14 April, 1471) a classic battle of planned deployments, but overlapping wings, cries of treason in the lines, fog of war (actual fog), and the excellent use of reserves.
  • Tewksbury (4 May, 1471) a battle that shows one of the key terrain features of the battles in this era, extensive hedges and thick underbrush in otherwise clear fields.
  • Bosworth(22 August, 1485) the best-known battle of the wars and the tragic (I think) death of King Richard III in a battle he should have won. Using the latest information as to where the battle took place, let’s see if you can cancel out the Tudor dynasty.


Each game includes:

  • Two double-sided 22″ x 32″game-maps
  • 2.5 sheets of counters
  • Rules Booklet
  • Battle Book
  • Charts and Play Aids
  • 2 ten-sided dice

Developer: Ralph Shelton

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Shadows in the Dark (A Video Review)



Shadows in the Dark is a pre-programmed, paragraph-based adventure in the Legends of the Ancient World series by Dark City Games. The game includes an adventure book (which contains the story and the rules), game counters, and a map used to resolve combat. Players create and customize their characters, follow the adventure making decisions that will influence the course of the story, and use map and game counters to resolve combat against the enemies that will be encountered along the way. The game can be played by a single player, as a choose-your-adventure book with a more tactical combat system behind, or by a group of up to 4 players working together in an RPG experience.

At the rim of the explored world lies a volitile land known as The Frontier. Horrific beasts born of nightmare appear out of thin air, devouring any living thing in their path. The weather and landscape too, are capricious and unpredictable. A scalding day may be replaced in a matter of moments by a raging blizzard. Where there was a verdant forest a day ago, now may be a vast desert. Now you are tasked to recover a stolen idol, a trinket, seemingly of minimum value. But Saleeb, the merchant prince, wants it back and is willing to pay a hefty fee. The only problem is that the trail of the idol goes deep into the uncharted regions of the frontier.

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Crusader Rex (2nd ed.) A Video Review

Crusader Rex is a block game of the 3rd Crusade. One Player plays the Christian Franks, the other, the Muslim Saracens. The objective of the game is to control important Victory Cities such as Jerusalem, Acre, Damascus, and Antioch.

The board depicts the Middle East from Antioch in the north to Egypt in the south.

Game design by Jerry Taylor and Tom Dalgliesh (Hammer of the Scots).

~ Columbia Games

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For the Crown ( A Video Review)

Civil war has broken out between two royal brothers over the succession of the kingdom, and the people of a once-peaceful nation must choose sides and rush to war. In For the Crown, you must gather key resources, train an army from scratch, and capture the rival King and Heirs to prove your claim to the throne!

In this game that combines the highly popular ‘deck-building’ mechanic with the most engrossing variations of Chess, do you have what it takes to wisely divide your attention between preparations and military maneuvering? To outpace your opponent’s development while eluding capture? Strategize your position and seize glory in For the Crown!

Game Data:

Complexity: 3 on a 9 scale
Solitaire Suitability: 2 on a 9 scale
Scale: Each unit represents a brave fighter on the chessboard of battle.

Game Components:

• One 2-page full color Instructions sheet
• One 2-page full color Player Aid sheet
• One 8.5” x 16.5” map
• 108 double-sided 3/4″ unit counters
• 100 deck-building cards
• Includes Designer’s Notes and Optional Rules

~ Victory Point Games


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Lyssan ( Preview of a Kickstarter Game)

Lyssan   a Preview (A Young Lady’s guide to Treachery and Military Options)

The Introduction: The First day I saw Sam Brown’s new Kickstarter project Lyssan, I got the sense it was a precious gem wanting to gleam. The game had intriguing knight and noble pieces that acted like a rock, paper, scissors mechanic and the board shows of a glided map of a romantic fictional Europe. Of course I have no idea what the final product will look like ( I ended up playing on a canvas board with hexagonal Catan like pieces), but if the art that Sam keeps posting on his Kickstarter page is any indication that the final game will be a fine dainty indeed. The game takes place in a feudal society were Knights and Nobles rule the land claiming taxes for their projects while other pawns play a lesser role of spy’s stealing secrets and priest for changing allegiances.  Did I say flavor text? The game is steeped with history and story with wide depth for a period piece. Before we start my young squire bring me some meat & mead, and light the fire for it is a long night ahead of us.

The Game play: The game begins with the placement of your starting pieces: Two Castles, Two Knights, Two Nobles, a spy, and a priest. Castle placement is important because all starting pieces originate at these buildings (include the priest and spy at the start of the game). Placement continues alternating turns until all pieces on the board. You also draw four influence cards because every young lady needs to alter the day’s events in her favor.

Influence cards added greatly to the game.. There are three different types of influence cards. The three types are:

  1. Surprises which happen and get discarded,
  2. Courtiers which are placed in front of you and grant reoccurring bonuses
  3.  Vassal courtiers that grant you additional mercenaries.

The game round is built into actions that take place in each of the four seasons. Very reminiscent of other games like Mahjong that us the natural world to guide movement, and I imagined all the old paintings of medieval peasants working in the fields around the castle gathering the harvest.

Spring: You place out five of the different trophies (the game cones with 12). In preceding years one trophy will be over turned and then awarded in the following year with few exceptions (Some trophies can be awarded as soon as a requirement is met).

Summer: Is the season of the tax. Players gain all the resources of the land they currently control with Nobles, Castles and Knights. Players can also move, battle, and deal with shame in the warmer months of the year.

Autumn: Players take two influence cards in hand (We only tax in the summer), and have a secondary turn of movement, battle and dealing with shame.

Winter: While camps settle for the long hardship of winter the order of player is determined by choosing the player with least influence (&Debt) first and the player with the most Influence last.

Good:  What makes this game exciting is the five ever changing objectives. While some influence cards allow you to see ever so briefly in the future (although some games have a flat potential if all the trophies with like objectives (who has the most nobles, who has the most Knights, who has the most spies. One way around this problem is to have the trophies come from different groupings.

Influence cards had a neat mechanic to put them into play in order to purchase them you had to discard the number of other influence cards for it card’s cost. For example a card with an influence of 3 meant in order to play it you had to discard three other cards.

The chess like interaction with the pieces on the board give the game depth. There were multi-level strategies between gathering resources, and setting up battles  while  protecting your property can become intense.

The artwork, the artwork, and the artwork! The artwork is top notch and captures medieval life well.

This one is very personal, but I really love games that draw upon cyclical elements in nature and love that this games round is broken down into the four seasons (although I would like to see some of the art address the different seasons, or maybe a different time keeper of peasants in all four seasons instead of the leaf)

Bad: This is a few of the things we would like to see changed.

The two player scenario didn’t work for us (puppet and master). Running two fractions was difficult at best, and both of us lost our plans for each faction while dealing with the task of the secondary one. Also we felt the Puppet &Master scenario didn’t seem fair (or a little contrived) if you could lose a game because you had the hidden puppet card under your leading fraction.  

There was a strong possibility of a run-away leader in this game. Since a player moves and attacks all at once, the first player of a turn could easily deal a mortal blow to the other player’s ability to gather resources. This meant in the second year a player could easily shut down his opponent’s armies and his ability to regrow them. Taxation seemed to be farer if it happened before all player movement.

Also we were hoping that there was some kind of mechanism or levy to slow a duke down that was dominating the game. This could be addressed with the size of the map and the early placement to slow things down and let people build up defenses. If the map became too big there could be terrain to aid and hinder movement. I also wonder if there were some trophies that could be given for less somehow to keep the game fair.

Being the first player has a great advantage. I can’t even imagine in a four person game if the first three fractions all attacked the forth. It would be devastating for the player to even start the game.

Some Influence cards had looping effects that allow them to be placed back in hand (friends in low places & Favors). That seemed too powerful to only have a few cards like that. I also wanted to see some kind of defense against influence cards. Otherwise you were always at the mercy of the latest card played, and you kind of felt that it would be more interesting if somehow you might have the potential to block an aggressive move made against you.

We wanted named mercenaries or other dukedoms to come to aid as the additional pieces granted from Vassal Courtiers, and not as it is currently labeled by color:  the orange knights, or the black nights. Also it was too confusing and too many like pieces to try and divide camps into Orange Priest/Orange Nobles and Orange Spies/Orange Priests. This could be a little confusing with lots of pieces on the board.

In its current state wording on the text and rules use multiple words to mean the same thing: (Conscript/Recruits, Trophies/Triumphs). This was a little confusing at first and consistency would help the rule book greatly.

Conclusion: I am really excited to the see the end result of this game. I love to see some of  the new thinking this game incorporates into its mechanics. A little more honing and time this game could easily be a shining star in a gamer’s collection.

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